American Acceptance of Shootings, Differences between the US and China

The shooting that occurred on Sept. 16 at the U.S. Navy Yard located in Washington left 13 people dead, including the shooter. There were 14 additional people injured. The suspect, 34 years old, had served in the Navy for four years, and continued working as a contractor after retiring from service. Following the shooting, Obama criticized the perpetrator, calling him “cowardly.”

Shootings are a long-standing problem for America. They happen again and again, each time sparking massive debate, but the situation just keeps going around in circles; no actual progress is ever made. These shootings provide a unique angle from which to observe and understand American society.

Following a mass shooting, the American president makes a speech filled with encouraging and infectious dialogue. The president will not push to take steps to solve the problem or even make any promises to do so. American society does not expect shootings to be prevented or reduced; they do not even believe it is the government’s responsibility. American society is completely “resigned” to continued shootings and does not demand “responsibility” from their government or believe they “must do something.”

American attitudes toward gun control are highly divided. There are some people who, no matter how many shootings there are, will still not accept any limits or control over guns, while others advocate for gun control. But after matching up these two groups, there is not enough strength to enact actual gun control. This is a “hornet’s nest,” and at best, the president is just showing off a strong demeanor while not daring to actually stir up trouble.

If gun control were implemented, it would be monumental social reform to American society, which includes 270 million gun owners. Several areas of society would be affected: Other than individual hobbies and personal security, the huge gun industry including the production and sale of guns would suffer. Foreigners will see this as a bit odd: Shootings have killed so many people, and yet gun control is still not needed? But it really is this difficult.

It cannot be said that America is “in chaos” because of the shootings themselves. American society’s strong sense and high capabilities for social autonomy along with a “small” government are the major reasons for this. Speaking objectively, there are 270 million firearms scattered among the people; every year more than 100,000 people are shot and approximately 30,000 people are killed by guns. This ratio is still relatively low.

American society and Chinese society have vast social differences. China has a “big” government; society requires it to take “infinite” responsibility. Media commentary saying China should also have a “small” government is not all that sincere, and actually some people hope for a “big” government while some hope for a “small” government. There is no clear order and public opinion is correspondingly mixed up.

The Chinese people do not have firearms, but there are criminals with homemade guns and bombs. In China, the occurrence of poisoning is not infrequent. Chinese society does not have enough social autonomy and depends on the government to handle things and bring everyone together. Maintaining the same level of public security would cost much more in China than in America. There is no way this does not have an effect on social governance in China.

Imagine if guns were common in basic levels of Chinese society. Now think of public opinion about the government’s responsibilities following the knife attacks at a Chinese school and compare it to the relative calm following shootings in schools and public places in America. It is not too difficult to see how different social governance in the two countries really is.

America has its problems, and China does too. Both countries should refrain from taking joy in the others’ misfortunes, learn from each other and be more encouraging toward the other. One point is clear: Peace and order, in any society, are the most important.

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